Today is 3 Kings Day for Christians. Also known as El Dia de Los Reyes (Feliz Dia de Los Reyes!), January 6th is a holy day for Eastern Christian and Western Christian churches. International customs on Three Kings Day celebrate the day Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar brought baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrhh.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.
Three Kings Day is also referred to as Ephiphany. Eastern Christian churches call 3 Kings Day Theophany. Western Christian churches may refer to the time from December 25 to January 6th as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
In our house, we always call it Little Christmas on January 6th. It is the last time we turn on the Christmas lights and tree before we take them down.
I visited Wikipedia and learned Irish refer to 3 Kings Day as Little Christmas. I have an Irish background so it makes sense. Other cultures have interesting names and customs to celebrate 3 Kings Day on January 6th.
Eastern Orthodox celebrate the Feast of Theophany. There is an eight day Afterfeast where the fasting laws are lifted to prepare for Great Lent.
The Armenian Church celebrates the Nativity and Theophany with a seven day fast before January 6th. On the eve of January 6th, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated followed by a Blessing of Waters.
The Ethiopian Orthodox church called the feast Timkat and has a Blessing of Waters and processions with the Tabot. They celebrate on January 19th or January 20th on Leap Year.
In France, they eat a king cake with a hidden bean or trinket (typically a porcelain king). The person who gets the goody is a “king” for the day. In Portugal a king cakes is baked and eaten.
The Dutch call it Three Kings Day. In Belgium and the Netherlands, children in costume sing door to door for candy and coins on 3 Kings Day.
In Greece the customs are around the Great Blessing of the Waters. On Epiphany Eve, children sing Epiphany carols.
Three Kings Day is still a school holiday on January 6th in Malta. Christmas decorations are typically up and lighted through this day.
In Spain, El Dia de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings) is also known as Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos (The Day of the Kings). The Magi bring gifts to the baby Jesus after following the star. Children and even adults leave shoes for the Kings' presents before going to bed on the eve of January 6th. In the morning, goodies are left in the shoes.
In Mexico, shoes might be left under the Christmas tree for 3 Kings Day. Filipino children also leave their shoes out for gifts. In Puerto Rico, children fill a box with hay or grass and put it under their beds for gifts. Feliz dia de los Reyes!
Baked pastry and terracotta are sold in Italy for 3 Kings Day. Befana visit the children the night before January 6th to fill their socks with candy and gifts if they are good. If they are bad, they get a lump of coal.
In Louisiana, Epiphany is the start of Carnival season. King cakes are baked. The one of finds the doll has to bake the next King Cake.
Do you celebrate 3 Kings Day and what do you all it? What are your customs on January 6th? Feel free to comment here or post at Gathering 4 Jesus.
Have a beautiful, blessed Three Kings Day!
Here is a YouTube video of Hugh Jackman, David Hobson and Peter Cousen singing We Three Kings and then Dora the Explorer celebrates 3 Kings Day for the children – and grown-ups!